The Recording Academy has added five new categories for the 2023 Grammy Awards, the largest one-year increase in 28 years. The Academy is adding a category for songwriter of the year, non-classical, which is analogous to the producer of the year, non-classical award it introduced in 1974.
The Grammys are also adding a new category, best song for social change. Submissions must contain lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes understanding, peacebuilding and empathy. But this isn’t part of the regular Grammy Awards structure. It’s a special merit award, akin to the music educator award, lifetime achievement awards, trustees awards and technical Grammy Awards. The winner will be determined by a “blue-ribbon committee” and ratified by the Recording Academy’s board of trustees.
These rule changes were voted on and passed at the Recording Academy’s semiannual board of trustees meeting held last month. They were announced on Thursday (June 9).
In another important change, the Recording Academy is limiting the number of submissions each member can make to five. There was previously no limit. For each additional entry beyond five, there will be a fee. But the Academy notes “considerations will be made for artists/members experiencing financial hardships.” This waiver offer is similar to the way the Academy has offered to waive the customary $100 annual dues renewal fee in each of the past two years to members experiencing hardship.
The five new competitive categories (not counting best song for social change, which is not a competitive category) brings the total of Grammys to 91, the highest it has been since 2010, when there were 109 categories. That was the last year before the Grammys went on a crash diet and dropped down to 78 categories. As most crash dieters have learned, the numbers on the scale have a way of creeping back up.
But Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr isn’t concerned. “I feel we’re being thoughtful and strategic on how we’re adding categories,” he told Billboard on Wednesday. “We’re doing it in a way to make sure we’re representing music and that’s ultimately our goal. I don’t care if it’s 50 categories or 150 categories. The number is not important. What is important to me and to us and our board [of trustees] is that we’re recognizing music in a way that music is being made.”
Here are 14 rule changes for the 2023 Grammy Awards, starting with the five new categories.